Monday, January 19, 2004

Former news librarian:
This forwarded by Jim Hunter:

Colleagues- I wanted to note the passing of Tom Barensfeld, librarian of the Cleveland Press. The elegant Plain Dealer obituary speaks for itself. Tom was was a close associate of Rose Vormelker -both of whom we mentors to me when I began working in a news library. I believe Tom last attended an SLA conference in Torono in 1974.

Copyright 2004 Plain Dealer Publishing Co.
Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio)

January 14, 2004 Wednesday, FINAL / ALL


LENGTH: 516 words

HEADLINE: Tom Barensfeld, Cleveland Press librarian



Tom Barensfeld was an authority on literature and an expert on newspaper libraries. He was in charge of the library at the Cleveland Press and served as a consultant for installation of new libraries throughout the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain.

Barensfeld, 81, died Monday at the Eliza Jennings home. Services will be at 8 p.m. today at the Donald Martens & Son Funeral Home, 11210 Detroit Ave.

"I used to call him a Renaissance man, centering his life on
literature, art and gourmet food," William Tanner, former city editor of the Cleveland Press, wrote to friends when he heard of Barensfeld's death.

Thomas E. Barensfeld was born in a Victorian house in West Park that had been built by his grandfather. Except for time he spent in the Army and at college, that was his residence for his entire life.

He graduated from West High School and attended Drexel University. During World War II, he served with the infantry in California and England. He was so taken with life on the West Coast that he attended UCLA after the war. Warner Bros. offered him a job as a researcher, but he returned to Cleveland and
earned a master's degree in library science at Western Reserve University.

He became fascinated with books when he read Aldous Huxley's novel, "After Many a Summer Dies the Swan," as an adolescent.

"That's when I realized what books could do for you - give you experiences that you could never have otherwise," he told an interviewer years later.

It spurred him to set a goal of buying and reading all of the great books listed in a supplement of the Encyclopedia Britannica, a feat he completed over three decades.

Barensfeld teamed with fellow librarian Fern Long in the 1940s to conduct Great Books discussions. He said the Great Books address the ultimate human questions: "Where are we? Who and what are we? Why are we? The answers are what the Great books offer. . . . You have a continuing dialogue with the ages," he

He left the library in the 1960s to work for the Press. When the paper closed in 1982, he stayed on to oversee the transfer of the Press library material to Cleveland State University. For the next dozen years, he was a Cleveland public school teacher for adults seeking high school equivalency certificates. He retired in 1995.

Councilman Jay Westbrook, who was a neighbor of Barensfeld and talked to him about linguistic theory a few weeks ago, called him "the most unique person you would ever want to meet. His house was a virtual library with walls of books from the attic to the basement. It was a journey of the mind to be with him at
any time. He was like your favorite professor."

Barensfeld was as interested in local history as he was in philosophy and the classics. He wrote articles about Cleveland neighborhoods. He conducted bus tours on which he described the origins of landmarks and the homes of historic Clevelanders.

He lived with his sister, Winifred, a retired nurse. He is also
survived by a brother, Donald of Olmsted Falls.

To reach this Plain Dealer Reporter:, 216-999-4807


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